Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tokpombu (Nongowa) Blacksmith

above: operating the bellows - at Tokpombu blacksmith shop

Tokpombu blacksmith at work making my machete

It was during our first few months in Kenema that I commissioned a blacksmith in the nearby village of Tokpombu to make me two machetes.  Although I had no real use for machetes, there were several occasions when I did attempt to help with the early brushing (clearing) of farmland and so during these few times, not having to borrow someone else's equipment was an advantage. So off I went with my friend, Patrick, to meet the local craftman and negotiate a price for the two machetes. As I remember the cost for each was a few Leones. It took several days for him to make them.  Sierra Leoneans were well-versed in making due with what was around them. For the machetes the metal came from derelict carsprings which might be salvaged from wrecks. The rubber handle was crafted from old car tires. The Tokpombu smithy (I do not remember his name) had an open shop outside his house. He had a hot fire to harden the metal and shape it into a very sharp blade. He had an assitant who would operate the bellows to get the fire really hot. Negotiating the price was  challenging.   One of the machetes remains in my possession today - I use it from time to time. The second one that I had made - I gave to Patrick just prior to our departure. 

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